Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K is for Kindness, and 365 Days of Blessings, Day 318

K is for Kindness!

But what is kindness? Is it simply being "nice"? or is it something more?

Have you ever heard the statement "cruel to be kind"?

Or the phrase, "killing them with kindness"?

How do these sayings relate to actual kindness?

In the dictionary it states that kindness is:
1. the state or quality of being kind
2. a kind act; favor
3. kind behavior
4. friendly feeling; liking.

And the synonyms are:
benevolence, humanity, generosity, charity, sympathy, compassion, tenderness.

Kind means:

1. of a good or benevolent nature or disposition, as a person: a kind and loving person.
2. having, showing, or proceeding from benevolence: kind words.
3. indulgent, considerate, or helpful
4. mild; gentle;
5. loving; affectionate.

The phrase "cruel to be kind" originated with Shakespeare's character Hamlet, who states:

"I do repent; but heaven hath pleas'd it so
To punish me with this, and this with me,
That I must be their scourge and minister.
I will bestow him, and will answer well
The death I gave him. So again good night.
I must be cruel only to be kind.
Thus bad begins and worse remains behind."

By the end of this speech, Hamlet is speaking about his behavior towards his mother. He thinks that by being "cruel" to her and scolding her for her relationship with his uncle, she will learn better behavior, so he is being cruel to encourage her to leave the bad relationship behind and become a better person.

This reminds me of statements about "tough love" which I'm never sure I completely agree with, ever. Yes, there are moments as a parent that I have to hold my kids to a standard, and I have to say no when it feels like it would be easier to say yes, and I expect them to learn from their mistakes. In a sense that is being "cruel to be kind." However, I think that this phrase can also be used as a horrible excuse for horrible parenting as well. So, as the song we all know states, it must be done only "in the right measure."

Then, there is the phrase, "killing them with kindness." What does that mean?

In dictionary terms, killing them with kindness can mean:

to be too kind to someone
to get what you want by being very kind to another person

In some ways, the heart of the matter can be found in Proverbs 25:22-23

"If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the LORD will reward you."

When we encounter someone who seems to be going out of his/her way to be cruel, we can choose to react with anger, or we can be kind. This is kind of like "turning the other cheek," but not quite. There is a satisfaction in knowing that we are essentially heaping burning coals on our enemy's head when we don't give in to bad behavior.

Maybe I'm being a bit sinful in that regard. When I really read my Bible, I know that I am to love my enemies and pray for them, and it isn't about heaping burning coals on their heads, but about freeing myself and them from the sins of bitterness and anger.

Do you struggle with kindness in the face of cruelty?

How do you love your enemies?

And how do you define kindness?

365 Days of Blessings, Day 309 - Blessings in Kindness:

1. My grandmother set an example for me as a child by smiling and saying hello to everyone in the neighborhood day after day, even if they didn't respond nicely. Eventually, "that grumpy guy down the street" smiled back at her, and started greeting her every day in return. To me, this is a good example of killing someone with daily kindness.

2. My oldest daughter may tease her little sister now and then, but she also stands up for her.

3. My youngest daughter watches out for me in deep powder snow when we ski, because she knows I don't like to be left behind, floundering, if I fall.

4. My oldest daughter always shares her "special" allergy-free food, even if other kids have their own "regular" food.

5. My youngest daughter makes her sister bracelets and get well cards when her sister is sick, or just feeling down. She also makes special bracelets and presents for everyone in our immediate family well in advance of holidays or special events. These are often unexpected, and in addition to other presents she gives.

6. My husband will stop everything he is doing and help someone change a tire, their oil, or fix their comptuer.

7. My husband has helped countless kids and adults down the ski/snowboard hill after they've been abandoned by "friends" who took them up and left them to get down the hill on their own.

8. My mom loves to make origami animals like "flapping birds" and "jumping frogs" with any paper on hand (restaurant napkins, etc) and then she gives them out to any kids nearby.

9. My dad will go miles out of his way to help someone with car trouble, and when he was younger, he would help just about anyone move from house to house. He seems to get a kick out of helping others.

10. The Lord has shown us true kindness in giving His Son to us as our Savior.

Scripture Blessings:
"I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD,
the deeds for which he is to be praised,
according to all the LORD has done for us—
yes, the many good things
he has done for Israel,
according to his compassion and many kindnesses.
He said, “Surely they are my people,
children who will be true to me”;
and so he became their Savior."
Isaiah 63:7-8


Karen Lange said...

Wonderful stuff! :)

Keena said...

good reminder...thx 4 sharing..

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Thanks for stopping by Tiptoe-Kisses earlier today! You've got one inspiring blog:)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Karen - Thanks!

Keena - Thanks for stopping by!

Lindsay - Thank you!